I received a phone call this week from a potential client. She found my name on the Peachtree.com website, and as with most people who call from there, she was having a problem. Her name was Jane and the first thing she said was, “Someone deleted all my 2010 invoices!”

Now, the only way to accomplish this in Peachtree (so I thought) is to delete each invoice individually, and I doubted someone had done that. After asking her a few questions, Jane handed the phone over to Samantha, who answered them.

Samantha told me their accountant needed financial statements from 2007. In order to print those statements, she restored a backup of the company file from 2009. Unfortunately, she restored the backup over the current company file, and although there was a warning that she would lose data by doing this, she clicked on Continue rather than Cancel.

So I asked her, “When was the last time you did a backup?” thinking that perhaps they would only lose a few weeks or maybe a month of data. Her answer was, “I haven’t backed up yet this year.”

My heart sank. She overwrote the company data. There is no way to reverse that in Peachtree. I said to her, “Unfortunately, you restored over the 2010 data. If you don’t have a backup, I can’t get that data back for you. I’m sorry.”

In a very sad voice (think Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh) she simply said, “That’s okay.”

What’s really sad is that there is no reason for Jane and Samantha to be in this position. Making backups of important data should be part of their daily, or at least, weekly routine. And is should be part of yours too!

Simple Backup Solutions

If you are in a business with a network and a server, then all your data should reside on the server (nothing on the local hard drives!) and the server should have a nightly backup routine. Many businesses still use tapes for their backups, which is fine, as long as there are 10 of them that revolve from week to week. There should be 2 weeks of backups at any given time. You also want to test the tapes every few months to make sure the backup is working and tapes are still able to be read.

If you don’t have a server then all your important data is sitting on your computer and you need to take care of that, right now!

The best advice I can give you is to use an online backup service, like Carbonite. These services run in the background and automatically backup your data to one of their computers (actually, to several of their computers since they run their own backups too).

If you are not ready to pay for a service, then invest in a good external hard drive, and copy everything of value from your computer to this unit. Do this on a weekly basis, at minimum. For the best protection, get two external units and rotate from one week to the next, and keep the current one off-site. Yes, you are saving your data in case of computer issues, but if your backup is sitting next to your computer, and there is a theft or fire, everything is gone.

Another option is to upload your data manually to “the cloud“. Places like Google Docs and Zoho Docs (disclosure – I am a Zoho Alliance Partner) have a good amount of free storage space. If you are mostly concerned with documents, then this is a good alternative. If you have lots of images, photos, and videos, then this is not a good option as those are typically large files and will not only require more room, but will take a long time to upload.

Lastly, if you are not taking any of these steps, then grab a USB stick (or Flash drive) and make copies of things that are irreplaceable – or at least the files you don’t want to have to re-create. Having at least one copy can be a saving grace – or a saving Jane.

What backup method do you use? Let me know if you have any data loss horror stories!

Efficiently yours,

The Software Revitalist
Ellen DePasquale – The Software Revitalist™

Author's Bio: 

I have been called a solopreneur, a mompreneur, an entrepreneur, and a small business owner, but regardless of how you categorize me, I am an expert in software with 20 years of experience helping businesses, from solos to multi-million-dollar corporations, develop and automate their business processes.